Returns to Physician Human Capital: Analyzing Patients Randomized to Physician Teams

57 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2008 Last revised: 26 Mar 2021

See all articles by Joseph J. Doyle

Joseph J. Doyle

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Economics, Finance, Accounting (EFA); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Steven Ewer

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Todd Wagner

Stanford University - VA Palo Alto Health Care System

Date Written: July 2008

Abstract

Patient sorting can confound estimates of the returns to physician human capital. This paper compares nearly 30,000 patients who were randomly assigned to clinical teams from one of two academic institutions. One institution is among the top medical schools in the country, while the other institution is ranked lower in the quality distribution. Patients treated by the two teams have identical observable characteristics and have access to a single set of facilities and ancillary staff. Those treated by physicians from the higher-ranked institution have 10-25% shorter and less expensive stays than patients assigned to the lower-ranked institution. Health outcomes are not related to the physician team assignment, and the estimates are precise. Procedure differences across the teams are consistent with the ability of physicians in the lower-ranked institution to substitute time and diagnostic tests for the faster judgments of physicians from the top-ranked institution.

Suggested Citation

Doyle, Joseph John and Ewer, Steven and Wagner, Todd, Returns to Physician Human Capital: Analyzing Patients Randomized to Physician Teams (July 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14174, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1165502

Joseph John Doyle (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Economics, Finance, Accounting (EFA) ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Steven Ewer

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Todd Wagner

Stanford University - VA Palo Alto Health Care System ( email )

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Stanford, CA 94305-5101
United States

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